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Incek Debates: ‘After the Brussels Summit: NATO-Russia Relations & Turkish Foreign and Security Policy’

21. Yüzyıl Türkiye Enstitüsü tarafından yazıldı.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017, 14:00-16:30

‘Let’s talk about foreign policy’


- Amb Selim Karaosmanoğlu (ret’d)

- BG (Army) Ufuk Uras (ret’d)

- Prof Hasan Ali Karasar (Atılım University)

- Dr Haldun Solmaztürk(Chair)




21st Century Turkey Institute

Ahlatlibel Mah. 1830. Sokak No. 39

06805 Incek/Cankaya Ankara



The next NATO Summit will be held on 25 May 2017 in Brussels. This will be the first summit to be held in the new NATO ‘castle’. Summit meetings are not regular events. They are held at key moments. Since 1949—in the course of 68 years—there have been 26 NATO summits, that is on average triennial. However, since 2006—in ten years—there have been seven summits: Riga 2006, Bucharest 2008, Strasbourg/Kehl 2009, Lisbon 2010, Chicago 2012, Newport (Wales) 2014, Warsaw 2016. 

Last summit in Warsaw on 8-9 July 2016 took some important decisions for “strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defence, and projecting stability beyond NATO’s borders”, notably: positioning of four multinational battalions in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in 2017, and development of a tailored forward presence in the SE part of NATO were adopted; Initial Operational Capability (IOC) of NATO’s ballistic missile defence (BMD) was declared; cyberspace was recognised as a new operational domain like land, air and maritime; support to to partners (in the Middle East and North Africa), especially in the fields of training and capacity-building was decided.

In Warsaw, Russia was singled out as the country whose actions undermined the rule-based order in Europe and prevented a ‘constructive relationship’. Since then, ‘relations with Russia’ has been one of the critical themes in European election campaigns setting liberal and anti-liberal camps—with respect to the so-called international liberal order—against each other. Brexit and Trump’s coming to power made the trans-Atlantic link even more precarious. Trump won presidential elections on an anti-NATO, anti-EU, anti-UN, but strongly pro-Brexit and slightly pro-Russia platform. He is clearly against fundamental pillars of the international liberal order, ‘Iran deal’, L’Accord de Paris and less than enthusiastic about the ‘two-state solution’. Such developments and attitudes have already caused fractures within the European members of NATO, between U.S./U.K. and other members of the Alliance—and within U.S. at home. Trump in his first foreign trip as president—after visiting Saudi Arabia, Israel and Vatican—will attend the Brussels summit.

Regarding Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, an unprecedented crisis with some NATO members—the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Bulgaria—is escalating. Relations with Greece have rarely been smooth. In UK, frightening slogan of “Turkey is set to join Europe” (invented by Boris Johnson) played a major role in the Brexit vote. And recently, particularly after the 15 July coup attempt in Turkey, senior Turkish officials have often been accusing the Obama adminstration of being behind the failed coup. Just as an improvement in bilateral relations—with the Trump administration—was expected, US decision to supply heavy weapons to YPG (considered a terrorist organization by Turkey) in Syria came as a cold shower.

Even more disquieting—even irrritating to some—is the attitude of the Turkish leadership. Turkey—not only to NATO ‘allies’ but also to Russia and others—is hardly a ‘team player’ in the Middle East any more. Oddly, U.S. and Russia have recently come together in a situational alliance against Turkey to ‘protect’ Kurdish YPG near Manbij. Despite its geopolitical advantage and the refugee crisis which offer a kind of political ‘impunity’, Turkey’s relations with many of its NATO allies have arrived at a critical point of rupture where even its continued membership in NATO is openly being questioned. The most recent diplomatic crisis caused by President Erdoğan’s personal security team—again—in Washington D.C. is boiling up.  

Turkish government’s official views on NATO and/or NATO summit decisions are hard to know. Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ web-site states that “the North Atlantic Alliance has played a central role in Turkey’s security and contributed to its integration with the Euro-Atlantic community” and “Turkey attaches the utmost importance to NATO’s role in maintaining security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area”. However, the simple fact, that the last time the NATO-related pages in the web-site were updated was in 2011, is telling.

The transatlantic relationship/burden sharing and fighting terrorism (NATO being a member of the anti-ISIS coalition) are likely to top the Brussels Summit agenda. As multinational NATO battalions and NATO air wings are already permanently deployed in Eastern Europe, Russia as a ‘threat’ seems to have been slipped down from the top of the list. Domestic political developments in individual member countries—particularly in U.S., U.K. and Turkey—drastic changes in the international political arena, as well as serious challenges to the liberal international order, make this summit one of the most critical ones in the history of NATO.

Against this background, Incek Debates will discuss ‘After the Brussels Summit: NATO-Russia relations & Turkish foreign and security policy’. Panelists are Amb Selim Karaosmanoğlu (ret’d), BG Ufuk Uras (ret’d), Prof Hasan Ali Karasar (Atılım University).

Amb Selim Karaosmanoğlu, over the years he served in the diplomatic corps, accumulated vast practical knowledge and insight into the Turkish foreign and security policy, particularly in the Middle East context, namely Iraq, UAE, Iran, as well as Turkey’s role in NATO.

BG Ufuk Uras was retired from the Turkish Armed Forces in 2016. His last post was Assistant Chief of Staff ‘Intelligence’ Allied Joint Force Command Naples (Italy).

Prof Hasan Ali Karasar teaches Turkish politics, Turkish foreign policy, international politics among others, in International Relations Department of Atılım University in Ankara.

Incek Debates are held in English with a multinational audience, open to public. Widest participation is encouraged, however ADVANCE REGISTRATION—subject to availability of seats—is kindly required. Please note that, due to seating limitations, in principle, only one representative from each institute/embassy can be registered.

Incek Debates
‘Bridging the intellectual gap’

For registration:
Tel: +90 (0) 312 489 1801
       +44 (0) 7448 7777 62 (For SMS)
       +90-533 683 5418 (For SMS)

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